Union Songs

Bernie Banton: Pure of Heart

A Poem by Mike Williss©Mike Williss 2007

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
I cry for the cruelty they made you endure
Covered like a snowman in asbestos dust
Their workplace relations a breach of trust
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
They treated you like a bloody spare part.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They knew, they knew, they knew for sure
Asbestos was a vicious killing carcinoma
That horrid death – mesothelioma
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
How many lives did they tear apart?

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They damaged your lungs, there was no cure
But you fought the bastards to see justice done
Not just for yourself but for everyone
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Yet they laughed at you right from the start.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Laugh last, laugh loud, to know that you're
The one who took it up to them
That they're the ones whom we condemn
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighting to the end their greedy black art.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Insulted by Abbott - that human manure
"Never take no for an answer" was your advice
They couldn't buy your humanity for any price
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighter for all right from the start

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
The qualities of the worker, not the entrepreneur
How bad was the pain against which you struggled to live?
"I wouldn't wish it on a Hardie's executive"
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
I'd wish it on them and their profit chart!


Many thanks to Mike Williss for permission to add this poem to the Union Songs website.

Bernie Banton who, despite his own pain and ailing health, campaigned tirelessly for compensation for other victims of asbestos-related disease, died at home early in the morning of 27 November 2007. He was 61.

He died satisfied that, after helping to set up a $4 billion compensation fund, he had achieved one last great act: to help mesothelioma sufferers gain access to a drug to help ease their pain and possibly extend their lives.

His death was all the more poignant because it came in the middle of Asbestos Awareness Week.

Mr Banton had been exposed to asbestos during the 1960s and 1970s, when he worked for James Hardie's insulation factory in Sydney. But it wasn't until 1999 that he learned just how toxic that exposure had been, when he developed asbestosis. In August 2007 year he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer for which there is no cure.

Visit Mike's blog at http://mike-servethepeople.blogspot.com/

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